Psalm 30:7–8

by Glenn on August 20, 2014

Today’s reading included Psalm 130. Verses 7–8 say,

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

It was that last line that caught me: “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” It’s easy to see from a 21st century vantage point how the Hebrew Scriptures are predictive of what Jesus will do when he arrives on the scene.

Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, and YHWH stops him, providing another sacrifice. Now we understand that God has provided a sacrifice for us. He did not withhold His Son.

There’s the scene in the desert where Moses lifts up a bronze snake on a staff and everyone who looks at it is saved from poisonous snakes. In the Gospel of John, Jesus provides his own commentary on the prophetic nature of that event: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14–15)

There are those passages in Isaiah that foretell a “suffering servant.”

I can’t imagine what it was like for an Israelite to read the Psalms trying to understand God’s redemptive plan in advance. You read/sing/pray that God “himself will redeem.” Do you have any way to know that the God who has said he is one is also three? In that unity there is also community and one member of that community will come to earth and suffer a death that will counteract all the damage of the Fall.

The Jews knew a Messiah was coming. While they would insist he has yet to come, the Gospels tell us of some who recognized Jesus as that Messiah: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Simeon, Anna the prophetess, John the Baptist, and all the disciples of Jesus who believed.

I feel bad for those of Jesus’ day who either from ignorance could not or pride would not see the work that God wanted to do for them through Jesus. It is a blessing to live on this side of the cross and understand the larger story, to see how God’s intention to redeem would actually be accomplished.

Our extraordinary God creates a perfect world. We mess it up. He begins remaking the world through the sacrifice of Jesus, who the Revelation of John describes as “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Rather than, “This is what you people need to do to fix this problem you made,” it’s “Here’s what I am going to do to fix this problem that I didn’t create. In fact, before I created I had a plan for how I would recreate it.”

“He himself will redeem.” Thank you God that we do not have to imagine how you are going to do this. We simply rejoice that you have done this, for us.

 

Edited (7 May 2021):

I stand by all of that. It seems to capture the big pieces of God’s redemptive story, but I realize there is a missing piece of What’s next?

Two things: 1. the Resurrection and 2. the Renewal of All Things. There remain prophecies to be fulfilled.

Those who have died will be raised:
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)

And this world that isn’t what it was, will be what God intended to be:
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'” (Revelation 21:1–4)

Our hope is that when we die, we will be raised. And that’s biblical hope, which is certainty, not “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.” We can count on it. And then this beautiful but troubled world will be remade. The end is not the end—neither of us nor the rest of creation. And we can’t imagine what that will be like:
“’What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

I’ve heard preached and I suppose I have found myself saying things like “We go to heaven when we die.” The problem is that isn’t the end of the story. I do think we could go to heaven when we die, although the scriptures are not crystal clear about the events and exact timing of things after our apparent demise. My understanding today is that heaven would be an interim experience at best, a place to wait for the actual end as described above—resurrection and the renewal of this world.

Again, I’ve heard preached and I suppose I have echoed the idea of salvation as getting out of this world. Jesus is a kind of fire escape to get out of this burning building of a world.

God is not done with this world. Salvation includes this world. Our hope is not in heaven. Our hope is in the resurrection.